Drawing the hypotenuse: The need to build ISC 3

Dennis Manos says all three segments are necessary for the Integrated Science Center concept to be fully realized and College research programs to continue to work at or near the frontiers of scientific inquiry.

If the third phase of the Integrated Science Center will hold “things we don’t have names for yet,” then what kind of activity is likely to go on inside? For one thing, Manos says, a near-certain avenue of inquiry at ISC 3 will involve mathematical modeling of natural phenomena.

“The final frontier will be the ability to bring physics, mathematics and very high-level computer science together to make predictive models in every area of scientific and technological study,” Dennis Manos said. Good, accurate, predictive computational models being made today are necessarily crude, he said, but resemble reality more and more closely each day.

“Now, researchers are building computational models of everything from hurricanes to riots to pathological parasites,” he said. “Some of them—like the model for flooding and coastal inundation being developed by our faculty—already do a good job of reproducing the actual flood zones associated with a major storm. “

Models of the future, he said, will be refined and robust enough for challenges such as predicting the biochemical consequences of a diseased liver at a level that will allow surgical or radiological intervention—well in advance of those consequences.

The third phase of William and Mary’s Integrated Science Center will make a hypotenuse opposite the right angle where ISC 1 meets ISC 2. The three phases of the center will, therefore, make a triangle along Landrum Drive near Crim Dell. Drawing the hypotenuse—making the ISC 3 a reality—will take considerable effort and expense, but will pay off, for the students of William and Mary as well as the faculty.

“To reach these frontiers of science, scientists are going to be grappling with problems of immense difficulty,” Manos said, “but those are the sort of problems our students need to be exposed to as they evolve. If we do not build the final phase of our Integrated Science Center we will not reach these frontiers and thereby our students will be comparatively disadvantaged.”

Manos says the third phase of the Integrated Science Center will not only take money—he estimates ISC 3 will cost about $85 million—but also institutional will.

“It will take recognition on the part of all of our faculty and alumni that no less a contribution is expected of this remarkable, stately, venerable institution than to take its place as a major player in the development of solutions to the problems that plague Virginia, the nation and the world,” he said. “That is a fancy way of saying what I’ve been saying all along:  sandlot baseball is fun, but playing in the big leagues is much better.”